The Practical Benefits Of Mindfulness During A Pandemic

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When you practice mindfulness and are present moment-to-moment, you are much more tuned in during typically "mindless" activities and routines throughout your day. This level of awareness not only positively affects your mind and body, but it turns out to be pretty darn useful during a pandemic.

Emotional Benefits of Mindfulness

Studies show that practicing mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative feelings and stress, but what is it and how does it work?

  • While you are focused on what you’re sensing and experiencing right now, your mind is not able to rehash the past or worry about your future.
  • If you are not replaying the past, feelings like regret and guilt aren’t nourished into sadness or depression.
  • When you are not trying to figure out the future, worry, anxiety and fear are quieted.

“When you are being mindful, you have a greater ability to stay focused on the task at hand and be emotionally present with the person or situation in front of you,” says John Mogerman, M.D., a psychiatrist with Henry Ford Allegiance Health. “Being mindful allows you to be more aware of how you’re feeling right now. This makes it possible to shift out of negative thinking and feeling in order to cope with your situation more effectively.”

Practical Benefits of Mindfulness

Daily mindfulness helps you be more alert overall. This includes being more aware of small behaviors we might otherwise overlook but have become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as:

  • What you touch.
  • How you open a door.
  • How long you wash your hands.
  • When it’s time to reach for the hand sanitizer (again).

It can also help you remember to practice other important pandemic safety behaviors, such as:

  • Greeting someone without shaking hands or hugging. 
  • Stopping short before touching your face.
  • Remembering to maintain social distance.
  • Wearing a mask properly.

How to Cultivate Mindfulness

Interested in becoming more mindful in your daily life, but don’t know how to begin? Practice these three techniques to get you started.

  • Focus your attention on your breathing. Especially when you’re feeling stressed, frustrated or angry, just pausing for a few deep breaths helps, as does practicing breathing exercises.
  • Practice bringing your attention to whatever you’re doing at any given moment. That might mean paying attention to how you brush your teeth, turning off email notifications while you complete a work-related task, setting your phone aside when spending time with a friend or spouse, or slowing down to really savor your food as you eat.
  • Pay attention to one of your five senses – something you see, touch, hear, taste or smell. Notice the sun peeking out from behind a cloud, tune into the sound of your child humming to herself, the tang of a raspberry, the warm paw of your beloved pet, or the smell of your first cup of coffee.
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To find a doctor or therapist near you or make an appointment, visit henryford.com. You can also call 1-800-436-7936 from Detroit or southeast Michigan or 1-888-862-DOCS if you are in the Jackson area or south central Michigan. 

Dr. John Mogerman practices psychiatry and sees patients at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson.

Categories: FeelWell